You May Already Be a Humanist
By André Guirard
Are you a frigophiliac? It doesn’t sound like a great thing to be, but when you learn it means someone who loves ice cream, you might raise your hand.
When people are polled, many express agreement with the core principles of humanism, but few describe themselves as humanists. This may be because they didn’t know there was a name for it, or because the name has been the subject of attack by institutions who feel their power is threatened by the humanist worldview.
Those institutions are right to be nervous. We want to act ethically for the good of all humanity and the planet through reason, compassion, and hope — not through supernatural beliefs. We want decisions to be based on science and the best available evidence.
Humanism isn’t a dogma or an organization (though there are organizations devoted to it). It’s a philosophy of life. It’s a way of thinking about our purpose on this Earth and how people can best live together.
Humanists reject all forms of dogma. We want to think for ourselves and encourage others to do so. That means there’s no consensus among humanists about the answers to life’s important questions. But we believe in searching for answers that affect our lives in the here and now because this is the only life we have. With no appeal to any higher authority than humanity, we are left with the joyous rough-and-tumble of honest debate.
Critics wonder how you can find meaning or do good without religion. But we believe that you can find wonder in nature and art and act compassionately because it’s the right thing to do.
We also believe that a secular society offers the best route to happiness because it provides for the welfare of all, not just those with particular religious beliefs.
Learn more about the humanist philosophy and its principles here:
- Humanism and Its Aspirations, the manifesto of the American Humanist Association.
- Humanism as a Belief System, an analysis by the Pluralism Project of Harvard University.